For Kia to call the new Niro’s exterior design a refresh is an understatement. Designed with the brand’s “Opposites United” philosophy and drawing heavily from the 2019 HabaNiro concept (which should’ve told us everything we needed to know—I mean its right there in the name), the design is well … interesting.
Shown at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show, sustainability is the name of the game with the new Niro as Kia seeks to make moves towards appealing to those who live their lives eco-friendly.
The front fascia is a reimagining of Kia’s “tiger face.” Following a design trend set by vehicles like the Hyundai Kona and Santa Fe, Chevy Trailblazer, etc, the front is accented by LED DRLs and headlights sitting below the hood line. The Niro has always been more of a wagon (with the Niro at just four inches taller than a Mini Clubman and four inches lower than Kia’s own Seltos) than a full-on crossover. Seemingly to reinforce the “I’m a crossover, not a wagon” look, black body trim extends down the facia and along the body, giving the Niro a two-tone paint treatment that designers call high tech.
The most unique part of the Niro’s new design is in the rear. If you’re like me, the first thing that probably caught your eye is the contrasting strip between the taillights and the C-pillar. Kia says that the design “blends simple surface treatments with dynamic sections to emphasize modernity and provide another point of attraction for consumers.” I’d say it’s a bit distracting and makes it look unfinished or in a state of repair.
The C-pillar strip was taken from the HabaNiro concept. Luckily it was toned down from the original inception on the concept. Other than small taillights that blend into the rear quarters and a lower bumper that looks as if it was lifted from another car and placed upside down, the rear is rather simple.
Kia was serious when it mentioned sustainability. Using materials like a headliner made from recycled wallpaper, and seat fabric made from eucalyptus leaves, the entire interior of the Niro has been redesigned. With a steering wheel that wouldn’t look out of place in a land yacht from the 1970s (It resembles the wheel in the Genesis G80 as well), the most noticeable difference in the interior is the ditching of the shift lever for buttons. Surprisingly there aren’t the acres of screens we’ve seen in other cars as of late.
No word on pricing or specs for the U.S. Niro, but Kia says the Niro will be available in HEV, PHEV, and EV powertrains next year.